GOP presidential candidates, cont’d

On yesterday’s radio program, host Hugh Hewitt asked me about the various GOP contenders’ stands on liability reform. I replied that for the most part they were clumped pretty closely together in strongly backing federal-level reform measures, the exception being Sen. Fred Thompson who has voted against several Congressional proposals to limit liability and has been backed fairly strongly by plaintiff’s lawyers in his campaigns. I added that Thompson has defended his votes on federalist principle and that his arguments on this point deserve a fair hearing; there are often plausible (and even compelling) federalist reasons to refrain from nationalizing areas of liability where the ultimate cost of state-court errors falls within states’ own borders rather than being dumped on residents of other states.

Those interesting in pursuing these questions can find more on Thompson’s views here, here, and here; on Giuliani’s here and here (and ritual disclaimer); on Romney’s here and here; and on Rep. Ron Paul’s, here (opposes Congressional involvement in malpractice reform on federalist grounds).

One Comment

  • The “federalization” of a given issue is today nothing but a vessel for competing ideologies. We’re all opposed to it when it the issue won’t go well for us (conservatives against federalizing gun laws, abortion laws, etc.; liberals against federalizing gay marriage, etc.). And we’re for it when it will.

    Principled opposition like RP’s is pretty rare. The body politic just isn’t mature enough to appreciate the founding fathers’ design — it takes genuine maturity to restrain yourself from seeking a power. And I am not hopeful that we’ll somehow turn the corner on this. “Interstate commerce” is, and has been, the new plenary power. Conservatives picked up on this 50 years ago and moved to Washington to be where the real action is.

    Having said that, go ahead and put federal limits on lawsuits. I mean, there’s one area that might actually hamper interstate commerce, it’s lawsuits.